Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Javad Zarif far outclasses Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ambassador Zarif is a savvy, friendly, intellectually acute diplomat — considered by other diplomats as “one of the best” in the business, according to one former US Ambassador I spoke to earlier today.
Zarif has a powerfully logical op-ed in the New York Times today, “How Not to Inflame Iraq.”
This article takes a shot at the logic of occupation, and I largely agree with Zarif’s view. However, I do believe that there are occupations that have gone right and that while I totally opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq, there was nonetheless still a path to getting things more right than they have gone.
But if Zarif reflects the approach of Iran’s Supreme Leader, then there may be real opportunity for a convergence of some American and Iranian interests. But if Zarif, who is so obviously, framing policy in ways dissimilar from Iran’s President is not indicative of the views of the state, then there seems little hope in avoiding a disastrous collision.
Here is Ambassador Zarif’s call for “grand bargain-ing”:
The Persian Gulf region is in dire need of a truly inclusive arrangement for security and cooperation. Only through such regional cooperation, with the necessary international support, can we contain the current crisis and prevent future ones.
I wrote in these pages almost four years ago that the removal of Saddam Hussein provided a unique opportunity to finally realize the long sought objective of regional confidence-building and cooperation, as well as to reverse the dangerous trend of confrontation, exclusion and rivalry.
We have lost many valuable opportunities to effect this arrangement, with hundreds of thousands of innocent lives shattered in the interim. The forthcoming meeting of Iraq’s neighbors, to be held in Baghdad next month, will be a good place to begin this difficult but necessary journey toward regional security.
More later — on a big conference I am helping to organize on Iran next Wednesday in the US Senate.
— Steve Clemons